The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a delay to the lifting of restrictions planned for 21 June. Restrictions, with a few exceptions, will now remain in place until 19 July.
Responding to the delay, Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:
“From the public health perspective, with case numbers rising again across the country and with a much more transmissible variant now the dominant strain, delaying the further lifting of restrictions is sensible.
“Not only will that maintain the rules around social contact, but the delay will also allow more people to receive their first or second jabs, offering them valuable protection against this latest strain.
“I ask all Devon residents to be patient. We will get there, but we need to move with great caution.
“We are seeing case numbers start to rise in the county and we will see the Delta variant becoming the dominant strain.
“We must therefore continue to follow the all important rules on social distancing, wearing face coverings when indoors in public places and washing our hands regularly.
“Please continue to get tested regularly using the rapid lateral flow tests, and self isolate if you test positive or are asked to do so by contact tracing teams.
“And please take up the vaccination when you are invited to do so.”
The weekly case rate in Devon right now is 16 cases per 100,000. It was 7 per 100,000 a week ago. Case rates are currently highest and increasing most rapidly in those aged 20 to 39 years old.
Speaking after the PM’s announcement, the Leader of Devon County Council, Cllr John Hart said:
“The country’s in a race between our vaccination roll-out and the more infectious variant of the virus so I believe this delay was inevitable.
“We need to close the gap between the proportion of our population who’ve had two jabs and those who’ve only had one because the difference in protection is very, very marked. And we must encourage younger people to book their vaccinations if they haven’t already done so.
“I think many residents of Devon will be pleased with this delay as the county has already been very busy with visitors.
“But I have to repeat my plea to the Government to ensure that our hospitality businesses continue to receive support.
“We’re entering their peak time now and these continuing restrictions will obviously hamper their ability to operate at full capacity, so it is vital that they receive help.
“ In the meantime, Devon County Council will continue to do everything in its power to ensure our economy recovers strongly from the pandemic.”